No surgical sex change? No problem at BMV to alter gender on licenses
By Marc Kovac
Those wishing a change need only a doctor’s statement to verify gender identity.
COLUMBUS — Ohioans wanting to change their gender on state-issued driver’s licenses or identification cards no longer have to have their body parts medically altered, under a new policy introduced by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles this month.
In the past, transgender Ohioans had to obtain letters from physicians as proof that they had completed full sex-change operations to change the gender listing.
Under the new policy, launched this week, affected residents submit a form signed by their physician or a licensed therapist or psychologist that they are living as the opposite gender, whether surgical procedures have been completed or not.
The new form includes space identifying applicants’ birth gender, their “gender identification” and their “gender change.” Physicians or psychologists must certify that the applicant “is sufficiently ready for, or has completed a gender role transition, and it is intended this role change is to be permanent,” according to the form. “This transition may or may not lead to further surgical intervention.”
Translated, that means they do not necessarily have to complete gender reassignment surgery to qualify, said Lindsay Komlanc, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
“In that physician or therapist’s mind, they have completed the process to the extent possible for that person,” she said.
Komlanc said the new policy was developed after members of the transgender community approached the state agency about the process of changing one’s gender on driver’s licenses.
“Not everyone who has the desire to have the full operation actually has the means for it,” she said. “It is a very long process from the start to the completion of when it actually occurs. [And] not everyone is actually physically able or healthy enough to have the operation. ... In the event that the person cannot have the operation, for whatever reason, the therapist can certify that they have been working with the person and that person is truly living as whichever gender it is.”
Komlanc said a very small percentage of issued licenses are affected by the change. Of the 8 million state-issued licenses and identification cards, fewer than 10 annually fell under former gender-change policy. About five applications have been submitted under the new one.
Transgender Ohioans must request the new form. Those who are in transition must submit a new one every time they renew their license. Anyone failing to submit the forms during license renewal will have their gender designation switched back to the original, Komlanc said.